Through tired eyes, a gentleman peered around in need of assistance. He stood tall, humble and in need of help. His eyes had seen bloodshed and his body had physically and mentally defended America to sustain liberty.
The Key Club at Manatee High School participated last month in an event known as Stand Down for volunteers and the homeless. Key Club partnered with the Manatee Community Coalition on Homelessness for this large-scale event at the Manatee County Fairgrounds s that took several months to plan. Andre Sanchez, a junior, and Kellie Sperduto, a senior, of Key Club helped organize the event.
"The Stand Down was a one-day event that supplied many services such as haircuts, manicures, clothes and shoes, sleeping supplies (sleeping bags and pillows), diabetes and health screenings and flu shots. It was an event for homeless veterans, the homeless, and people and families on the verge of homelessness to attend," said Sperduto.
Sperduto and Sanchez made it possible for MHS to participate in this event. Key Club organized and executed projects at the school for this main event by holding numerous food and clothing drives to help the cause.
"I assisted with the planning of the event, and with Kellie's wonderful help, we were able to incorporate our Key Club chapter into volunteering," Sanchez said. "MHS Key Club conducted a large scale clothing and toiletry drive. They collected thousands of items to distribute to the homeless shelters and Stand Down. The drives served as morale boosters to build up excitement for the event.
"This event opened the doors of Manatee High to the public eye and showed our community that our school far exceeds expectations. About 100 MHS Key Club volunteers attended the event
to assist from anything as simple as children's activities to organizing clothes for the homeless. We also worked in hygiene departments, medical services, food services, set-up and clean-up," said Sanchez.
Key Club does numerous events each year, yet this one stood out because it was not just beneficial to the community, it also taught important lessons to the members who participated.
"This event is different from other major service projects since it united our club more than ever as a family and allowed us to see the true value of friendship," said Sanchez.
Said Sperduto: "This was important to all of MHS because it showed that everyone and anything can help; what we take for granted could be a must for their survival. I think that it also showed that high schoolers can make an event like this happen. It gives pride to those who helped."
Helping veterans who are in unfortunate circumstances led Key Club to participate in an outstanding project impacting the community and helping students gain awareness of the hardships members in our community face.
Not only did the event propel the club, it moreimportantly propelledstudents to continue helping those in need after this event, starting with individuals in Manatee County.
"Not only does our school have the best football team in the nation and perhaps the best academics in the county, the Stand Down also showed our community that our students are ready to make a substantial impact in their community," said Sanchez.
Besides this event, Key Club will be partaking in more projects to come helping the community one step at a time.
"These events are annual, so if you missed this year, come next year," Sperduto said. "Even if you are not in Key Club, come join. Mr. (John) Vita always likes to say, 'You will get back what you give to the community for volunteering.'"